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MUSC gives early take a look at new youngsters's hospital in Charleston, set to open in October – jj

MUSC gives early take a look at new youngsters's hospital in Charleston, set to open in October


With a little over two months left until the scheduled opening, the Medical University of South Carolina offered an inside look at their new children’s hospital.

The MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital is 10 floors tall and was modeled after the nearby Ashley River Tower. Hospital leaders will officially dedicate the building on Friday morning.  

The existing children’s hospital is located on Ashley Avenue and was built more than 30 years ago. Construction on the new facility at the intersection of Calhoun Street and Courtenay Drive broke ground back in August 2016. 

The original budget for the children’s hospital, first approved in 2013, was a little less than $350 million. That figure has since increased to nearly $400 million. 

MUSC has so far received more than $100 million in private philanthropy to fund the new children’s hospital, including a $25 million donation from the hospital’s namesake — prominent technology entrepreneur Shawn Jenkins. The remainder of the project has been financed with a combination of state money and federal loans. 

Some of the donated money will be used to pay for a $5 million garden atrium and aquariums, which will cost nearly $800,000.

Jenkins told MUSC officials he was proud that donors have given a valuable piece of real estate on the Charleston peninsula to a very vulnerable group — children in need. 

“Let’s give them the penthouse view, basically,” Jenkins said. 

The top floor will house the cancer care unit. 

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Work continues Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston. The hospital, slated to open in October, is designed to resemble a sail. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

New Amenities 

Many of the hospital’s public amenities, including the cafeteria, a multi-purpose room, a chapel and an indoor and outdoor atrium, will be located on the seventh floor. 

The multi-purpose room will be used for things like educational activities or guest speakers. 

The cafeteria will offer healthy options for food, MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said. There will also be a grab-and-go space that will allow families to get food when the cafeteria is closed.

“At three o’clock in the morning, if somebody needs a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they can get it,” she said. 

MUSC is moving into the third phase of a major decades-long building replacement plan.

The seventh floor also includes a balcony space with seating options that overlook the Ashley River. The hospital will offer a laundry room for families and patients, after those groups expressed the need for one.  

In the outside garden area on the seventh floor, the space will include a giant installed screen that will allow children to watch movies. There will also be a playground and swings located in the outside atrium. 

Planners want to include more foliage to give a Lowcountry feel to the space, Woolwine said. The indoor portion of the atrium will include activities for children and families. The goal is to make families feel comfortable and at home. 

“Nobody wants to come to the hospital,” she said. 

The indoor and outdoor atrium were funded by a donation from philanthropist Anita Zucker and her family. 

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Labor and delivery nurses at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital receive instruction on using new equipment Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 in Charleston. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Touch pads, thermostats and more space

Each floor will include a kitchen and a play area.

When hospital leaders solicited feedback from parents and caregivers during the planning stages, they found that parents wanted more options that allowed them to stay close to their children. 

In addition to couches with pull-out beds in patient rooms, each room will come with a flat screen television and an attached camera.

“All of the rooms are outfitted for telehealth,” Woolwine said.  

But first, MUSC must ask permission from the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to proceed.

The rooms will include scanners that will project provider information onto a flat screen when a doctor comes into the room. Patient rooms will also have at least two touch pads. One will remain installed on a wall next to the entrance of the patient’s room and will project patient information. Another touch pad will be located inside each room and will be specially programmed for each family. 

Woolwine said that the touch pads will allow kids to continue watching their favorite shows when information is projected on their larger screen. They will also give families the option to adjust the temperature in each room since all of the patient rooms are equipped with individual thermostats. 

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The rooms are more spacious than they are in the older hospital. 

“People like to have their family with them,” she said. “So space was the No. 1 thing.” 

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Alan Rodrigo lays floor tiles Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in the future children’s atrium on the seventh floor inside the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston. The atrium will also have an outdoor section complete with a flower garden, a playground and swings. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

On budget — for now

The hospital will include a new pediatric heart care center on the third floor and an intensive care unit on the second. One of the main differences between the new facility and the existing hospital is how patients are organized.

In the current facility on Ashley Avenue, much of the space is open bay. 

“Families are pretty much next to each other,” Woolwine said. “It just adds another level of stress.” 

In the new facility, there will be a private room structure. The idea to reorganize the rooms came from a mother who lost her child at the children’s hospital. 

The mother told MUSC that the open bay structure made it difficult to grieve her child. 

“And that was feedback from one mom that made a difference,” Woolwine said. 

The area around MUSC, Roper Hospital and the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston floods frequently and severely. It’s a longstanding problem and a major public safety risk in the event of a major storm.

The hospital will also come equipped with a helicopter pad on the roof. City officials wanted to create something that could be widely used. 

“If a kid is going on a helicopter, they’re going to come here,” she said. 

For now, the hospital project is on-budget. But MUSC leaders are concerned about the possibility of going over-budget if unexpected costs arise, said Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health, during a board meeting Thursday morning. Whether that happens will depend on some final bills from contractors.

MUSC leaders expect 1,000 people to attend the facility’s official dedication on Friday.

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